Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa Assembly was adjourned several times on Wednesday in the wake an allegation of sexual harassment against Speaker Maheswar Mohanty.

Reacting to media reports on the allegations made by a woman employee of the Assembly in the morning, Mr. Mohanty announced that he would not preside over the proceedings till a probe was conducted into the allegations.

Suspended woman marshal Gayatri Panda had told some television channels that the Speaker had harassed her and placed her under suspension on two occasions.

Ms. Panda said she brought the matter to the notice of the Secretary of the Assembly on February 21 and sought withdrawal of her suspension, but no action was taken on her written plea.

Terming the charges baseless, Mr. Mohanty said it was the result of a conspiracy hatched against him in which many important persons were involved.

He suggested that a House Committee be constituted to probe the allegations to unravel the truth.

The Opposition, however, did not agree to the Speaker’s suggestion, saying that such a committee would not be impartial.

When Deputy Speaker Prahallad Dora came to preside over the proceedings, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra sought adjournment of the proceedings. An all-party meeting should be convened to decide on the mode of inquiry, he said.

The proceedings were adjourned several times during the day as leaders from both the Opposition and ruling parties remained busy in meetings outside. The Deputy Speaker finally adjourned the House for the day after an all-party meeting, convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raghunath Mohanty, failed to reach a decision on the mode of the probe.